Thousands of Americans are freezing off their fat this Christmas, rather than burning it off at the gym, after signing up for a plastic surgery treatment that uses extreme cold to blast away love handles, muffin tops and spare tyres.
The procedure, which can be done during a lunch hour, is proving particularly popular with men who do not want surgery or liposuction.
Those seeking a pre-emptive strike against the festive bulge are hooked up to a machine that uses vacuum pressure and deep cooling to target fat below the skin, freezing unwanted fat cells in the waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, arms and back.
Patients can answer emails and telephone calls, or watch a film while having the CoolSculpting treatment. It is used for small areas of fat that refuse to budge with exercise and is done without anaesthetic or medication.
According to plastic surgeons, it is best for those who are about 15lb to 20lb (7kg-9kg) overweight and removes 20pc to 30pc of fat in the targeted area, with the results showing gradually over a period of weeks after the procedure.
At Marina Plastic Surgery, which has so far performed 4,000 of the procedures in Los Angeles, Dr Grant Stevens, a plastic surgeon, says: "I had my love handles done myself. The fat dies, the skin tightens, it's incredibly easy and it only takes about an hour.
"The beauty is, it's permanent. If you eat a lot you'll gain weight in other places, so you need to keep going to the gym and watching your diet, but the fat we freeze doesn't come back."
Dr Stevens said there had been a rush for the procedure by men, who were attracted by its non-invasive nature compared with liposuction.
There are no incisions, scars or suction hoses. Only 13pc of his usual clientele are men, but for fat freezing it rises to 45pc. "Men have their love handles treated," he says. "The other place is the tummy, and they also have their man boobs done. Women go for love handles, muffin tops, the thighs and arms.
The temperature of the machines used to freeze away the fat is kept secret, but the idea of using extreme cold to damage fat cells first surfaced in the 70s, when it was discovered that some children who ate ice lollies developed cheek dimples.
The system costs about $750 (€570) for each session. (© Daily Telegraph, London)